Monthly Archives: April 2010

Garden update!

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It’s hard to keep updated on my garden because right now it’s growing so fast! Though it’s been a little bit of work every few days because we have to keep transplanting the plants into larger pots, I’m happy with how it’s turning out, and can’t wait to see the fruits (or vegetables!) of our labor!

Last week I posted on Freecycle (remember how much I love Freecycle??) asking for large pots and possibly a topsy turvy tomato planter (hey, it was worth a shot!) I ended up with a couple large planters (not as big as the one we bought, but still big enough for a couple plants) so on Saturday we planted our quickly growing seedlings into the larger pots!

Currently our balcony looks a little, well, sparse, but I can’t wait for the plants to get bigger and become visible over the edge of the pots! Plus, we have a couple bulbs that are starting to grow as well, so flowers will bring a little more color to the balcony.

These tomato plants aren’t ready to spend the nights outside. I’m trying to toughen them up by bringing them outside every day and taking them in at night. I can’t wait for them to grow bigger so we can put them in more permanent pots!
I love gardening! How about you? How are you gardening this year?

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I would never let this happen…

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When I came home from the grocery store, I discovered that a whole chicken I’d just bought had leaked into my reusable bag!! Normally I would have thrown the chicken in a small plastic bag, but I didn’t think time and regretted it!

Of course, I was hungry, and didn’t feel like dealing with it, so after putting the chicken into the freezer, I set the bag aside to eat lunch and deal with it later (luckily it leaked only onto the plastic bottom, so I can just wash that off).
Well, someone else had other ideas! I looked up to see Hermione cleaning out the bag for me!

Of course I stopped her, right? Um, no. I quietly snuck over to try and take a picture!

Caught licking her lips!
Don’t worry, I will still wash off the plastic bottom. I just couldn’t resist taking a few pictures of our little troublemaker!

Homemade Breadcrumbs

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Homemade breadcrumbs are one of those things I never thought I’d be doing. I mean, breadcrumbs are so cheap at the store, why would I bother to make them myself?
Maybe because that way I would waste all this lovely bread that is otherwise useless, or, ahem, stale because I didn’t eat it fast enough.

Plus, making breadcrumbs is easy! I store my bread heels in the freezer, usually, until the bag is full enough that I need to do something with the bread or else continue to fill the freezer with bags of bread. Anyway, the bread can be fresh or stale, but I like to defrost it beforehand. Just a personal preference. Rip the pieces of bread up and throw them in one of our best investments ever: a food processor.

I bet you can guess the next step! Process it! (Or whatever it’s called when you turn the food processor on)

Finally, because the crumbs will be soft, I like to bake them, though I suppose you could leave them out on a baking sheet overnight if you aren’t in an incredibly humid location. Don’t broil them unless you’re right there. I may or may not have accidentally burned some of my crumbs doing that. Though it didn’t matter too much because, well, they’re just bread crumbs!

And that’s it! See? Told you it was easy!

Composting 101

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I am, by no means, a composting expert. However, I have attempted several composts now, and done a significant amount of research, so I feel confident that I can help at least a few of you! Plus, I’ve received several comments lately (both on the blog and off) asking about composting, so I figured, in light of it being Earth Day, well, yesterday, a compost post was appropriate. (Sorry I didn’t get around to posting this ON Earth Day!)

The composts I have started have always been for apartments, so I will discuss small-container composting for you today. Someday I do hope to get a large container compost for my backyard, but since I don’t have a backyard at the moment, my rubbermaid container will have to do.
Yup, that’s all I have. A rubbermaid container full of food waste! Composting is easy, cheap, and even saves money…I’m taking the trash out only once a week for the two of us because there are fewer things in there that make it smell!

To start a compost, go buy a medium sized plastic bin, and drill holes in all four sides, the top and bottom. This is important for air circulation and allowing rain water in and the compost to drain properly.
Next, rip up newspaper, scrap paper, junk mail and whatever you can find and fill the bottom of the bin. Next, pour some water over the paper, enough to wet it, but not soaked. The compost should remain wet but not sopping wet, that will make it mold and smell, which is bad.
After that, you’re ready to add food! I keep an old plastic bowl next to my sink and when it gets full (or smelly) I will bring it out to the compost which sits right outside our back door, just off the kitchen, conveniently! About once a week I go out there with some nice yellow kitchen gloves and stir it.

If you are impatient and want to speed up the process, you could try adding worms to your compost. We have done that in the past, and probably will again this year. I typically get my worms online, and if it’s just one or two of you adding to the compost, I would recommend 500 or about a pound of worms, depending on how they are sold. I got mine online, at Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm, but you can get them just about anywhere online. I haven’t tried to get them in a store yet, but if you do make sure they are red worms, because those are the best for composts. Worms, of course, are completely optional in your compost!

I would suggest not keeping the compost in the house, or buying into those types of composts that say they don’t smell and you can keep them in the house, because, honestly, I don’t believe it. Plus, when your compost is outside, it is more likely to bring critters that will help out the process.
You can put most anything in the compost, with the exception of oil and meat products. I tend to avoid bread, but that’s only really because it gets too wet in this climate and tends to mold, so our bread usually has to go in the trash.

So, how did I do? Do you have any composting 101 questions for me? Or anything else to add?

Growth!

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I have been meaning to update about our veggies for the past few days, but just haven’t gotten around to taking pictures to show their growth. Today, however, I realized that if I don’t update soon, the next update will show actual veggies!

On Saturday we headed to Home Depot (actually, Geoff went alone, as I was at a CPR/First Aid training all morning) and came back with, well, a small garden! We were able to fit the cucumbers and sugar snap peas in this one large planter, but our other smaller plants weren’t ready yet, so we left them alone.
We do plan on getting a Topsy Turvy tomato planter (or two…we planted 4 tomato plants!) for the tomatoes, which aren’t ready to go out in the weather. Earlier this week I did have to move the zucchini (or yellow squash, honestly I don’t know which grew and which ended up being duds!) into a couple smaller pots until we can get another large planter.

Anyway, I’m pretty happy with the progress at the moment! I was a little worried that it would be too cold outside, but I think we’ve had our last frost here, and they’re in an excellent place for sunlight here. Needless to say, I’m quite thrilled with the progress!
We also bought a strawberry plant, which, after some research I discovered that it will produce fruit for about 3 years before we have to “retire” it. The only issue I foresee with this, is birds! So I will have to make sure no one eats the fruit before we can!

Though there was a rather large initial cost in investing in the pots and soil, I’m OK with that, because we will be able to use them all again and again, especially since I don’t know how long it will be before we have our own “real” garden.

Menu plan Monday, Weight Watchers edition!

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Geoff and I have been frustratingly unsuccessful at Weight Watchers lately, and as such I’m not only planning dinner, but breakfast and lunch, and we’re both going to eat the same things. Here’s hoping for a better week.
It’ll require a little extra planning and work in the kitchen to make some of these lunches for the next day, but I’m confident that we’ll be OK. This week’s meals are mostly from the Weight Watchers Momentum Cookbook. And, as always, Menu Plan Monday is brought to you by orgjunkie.com!

Sunday:
Breakfast: Oatmeal with fruit
Lunch: Sandwich for Geoff (I will be eating at church so I’m not sure what I’m eating)
Dinner: Hearty steak and vegetables

Monday:
Breakfast: Oatmeal with fruit
Lunch: Avocado, spinach and feta wrap
Dinner: Rosemary chicken with potatoes

Tuesday:
Breakfast: Oatmeal with fruit
Lunch: Turkey wrap with yogurt sauce
Dinner: Grilled chicken (we’ll want some leftover for later this week), roasted broccoli and any other veggies we have in the house, cous cous.

Wednesday:
Breakfast: Oatmeal with fruit
Lunch: Creamy tomato soup
Dinner: Leftovers and youth group dinner (for me)

Thursday:
Breakfast: Oatmeal with fruit
Lunch: Pasta salad with apple and chicken
Dinner: Out (this is our weigh-in night…so we eat something totally unhealthy)

Friday:
Breakfast: Oatmeal with fruit
Lunch: Creamy tomato soup
Dinner: Breakfast for dinner: scrambled eggs, bacon and fruit.

I’m really really hoping this is a better week for us!

Six days into seed growing…

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My seeds have graduated! They are no longer seeds and are now sprouts! I’m so happy about them!

If I’m not mistaken, those are sugar snap peas in the first picture, and cucumber in the last one. One of the squash has started to grow, and even though you can’t see it, the tomatoes are as well! I’m extremely happy with how they have turned out so far! Since I’ve managed to go almost a week without killing any of them, I have hope!

Hermione is impressed too.